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Gender, Medicine, and Society in Colonial IndiaWomen's Health Care in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Bengal$
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Sujata Mukherjee

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199468225

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199468225.001.0001

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Public Health Administration, the Famine of 1943–4, and Impact on Women

Public Health Administration, the Famine of 1943–4, and Impact on Women

(p.146) 6 Public Health Administration, the Famine of 1943–4, and Impact on Women
Gender, Medicine, and Society in Colonial India

Sujata Mukherjee

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces the evolution of public health care administration, female mortality and the gruesome impact of the catastrophic Bengal famine of 1943. Since 1919 health had come under the purview of the provincial government. Public health records around the end of the 1930s drew attention to the simultaneous deterioration in respect of both births and deaths. Rate of stillbirths was steadily rising as also the death rate from maternal causes. During the famine women died in large numbers not only due to famine-induced epidemics but they also suffered because of abandonment, destitution leading to adoption of survival strategies that affected health status. The famine exposed how poor health status, inefficiency of public health administration, dietary deficiency among Indians, particularly among women and children, and so on made them extremely vulnerable.

Keywords:   Public health care policies, birth rate, death rate, epidemics, famine, female mortality

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